Sharpshooter Value Bet – AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle

No big Willie Mullins/Gordon Elliott Irish Trainers Championship shoot out at Punchestown this year, Mullins has a lead of over one million Euros after the Fairyhouse Easter Festival - including an Irish Grand National 1,2,3 - and that is clearly game, set and match to the Closutton team.

Mind you, the title race had been a lot closer than many think, with Elliott quietly building up a head of steam in the last few months and - off the radar a bit - creeping right back into contention. But as Bob Dylan might have said back in the day, that's all over now baby blue.

What with his first Gold Cup and Irish Grand National success lately, Mullins has been hogging the spotlight, but Elliott can pinch back a bit of the glory with SURIN in the AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle on Saturday 4.25.

A shrewd 72,000 buy by Mags O'Toole at Tattersalls for the Gordon Elliott/Gigginstown team, Elliott has always liked her, and the fact that she has always been pitched in against geldings - rather than take the easier mares races route - shows just how highly Elliott regards her.

Pipped by Gardens Of Babylon on her debut at Punchestown, she turned the tables on that rival next time at Fairyhouse despite running very green when hitting the front.

Elliott had no hesitation in listing a Grade One in Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival as her next target where she again acquitted herself very well against the males when a good third to the brilliant but sadly ill fated Sir Erec with old rival Gardens Of Babylon second.

That classy contest in early February was her last race which will certainly give her a freshness edge against rivals who have since been to Cheltenham or Aintree - or both! She also skipped Fairyhouse to wait for this so Elliott will have her perfectly primed for Saturday.

Our two Guineas tips Magna Grecia and Iridessa seem well on course for Newmarket at the weekend, and hot prospect UAE Jewel will be interesting in a Listed Race on the Saturday. The Ballymore Handicap Hurdle at Punchestown on Saturday is always a very tricky affair, but lesser fancied Mullins runners have won it in the last two years at 14/1 and 20/1, and Cut The Mustard, finally, finally, stepping back to two and a half miles could justify each way support at a fancy price.

Selection - Punchestown Saturday

SURIN   0.5 point each way 12/1 William Hill, Betfair & Paddy Power

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